Boy R. Abunda Talk Series: Are you ready to take the stage?

The Boy R. Abunda Talk Series (BRATS) was officially launched last June 8 at Above Arts, 112 West Avenue, Quezon City (Penthouse, BIR Building).

BRATS is an 8-minute onstage talk with a speaker and an audience. The speaker takes centerstage to share real and empowering personal stories. BRATS takes inspiration from inspiring talks and talk series around the world like Ted Talks, the Gel Conference, Ignite, PopTech, Big Think, etc. Boy previously delivered an interesting and provocative speech titled Why Can’t We Have a Gay President? for Ted ADMU.

In his BRATS opening remarks, Boy emphasized the need for people to talk to each other. “We need to touch each other’s lives. We need to listen to each other. We are in a wired generation. One of our goals is to go back to the basics. To enjoy laughter, aspirations, and conversations. And it should be experienced live.”

“We are hoping that BRATS becomes a celebration of life where ideas merge with inspiration and passion. We would like to be able to tackle issues that deal with the physical, the intellectual, and the spiritual journey that a person takes when moving from pain to wisdom, from being wrong to becoming right, from being a victim to becoming a victor, from being a failure to becoming a success, and from being a bigshit to becoming a bigshot,” he added.

BRATS encourages people to tell their stories, to share, to listen, and to open their hearts. “We want to remind people that you can tell your stories, inspire and empower, and you don’t need to ask anybody’s permission to do good,” Boy said.

The four speakers who shared their personal stories were Atty. Kathy Merza, Santy Layno, Almed Garcia, and John Ace Hernandez. Atty. Kathy did not give up after failing the bar examination twice. The failure became a renewal of faith for her. She enumerated some valuable lessons during her talk: 1. There’s no shortcut to success. 2. Accept your shortcomings. 3. Start fresh. 4. Go out of your comfort zone. 5. Pray hard 6. Never stop trying.

Santy Layno talked about her life as a transgender woman and sex worker. Santy, now a proud LGBT advocate, explained the joys and hardships of being a sex worker. She also defined what a prostitute is, as opposed to a sex worker. “A prostitute is a victim while being a sex worker is a choice. I refused to be a victim.” She displayed courage which she defined as “telling your story with all your heart.”

Almed spoke about breaking the stereotypes of women as dictated by society and shared her life’s experiences.

Ace is a proud gay daddy of three biological daughters. He talked about raising his daughters: one is a graduate in Psychology, another finished Medical Technology while the youngest is a Grade 11 student at La Salle. Ace who is now separated from his wife added, “Mahirap na masarap maging magulang. Kapag magulang, hindi mo iisipin ang sarili mo. Para sa anak mo lang.”

Boy synthesized the talks at the end. “From Kathy, it’s nice to get out of your comfort zone and get a new perspective. When you have limited time, use it properly. Santy, thank you for teaching me what courage is all about and what’s the difference between a prostitute and a sex worker. With Almed, there is no law that a woman cannot give flowers to a man and what a wonderful experience it is to have a father who says ‘umuwi ka’ whatever happens outside of home. With Ace, we can’t go wrong if we embrace the truth.”

Boy promised that BRATS will continue, “For as long as you’re willing to listen. For as long as you’re willing to tell your stories, we will be here. We want to go to schools, to companies, to organizations, and to the provinces. We will organize BRATS for you. Magkukuwentuhan tayo.”

The main coordinators of BRATS are Ms. Bemz Benedito and Mr. Ruffy Hirang.

For more info, please contact Ms. Bemz Benedito at 0917-9984584 and email address bemzbenedito@gmail.com